Maricopa County Craziness

Mary Rose Wilcox Slapped With New Indictment; Chicanos Por La Causa Records Provided Evidence, Thomas' Office Says

​A new grand jury convened by Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has indicted Mary Rose Wilcox on 42 criminal counts after problems were alleged in the first go-round.

 Thomas' office

released newsof the grand jury's finding this afternoon. Not only did a second grand jury manage to reach the same conclusion as the first, Thomas' office says, but the search of Chicanos por la Causa records "resulted in additional evidence supporting the new indictment." Who'd have guessed?

It seems possible that a ham sandwich could be indicted twice, if it got indicted at all. But Wilcox wouldn't be in hot water to begin with except for her, ahem, apparent tendency to err on the side of non-disclosure when filling out financial-disclosure forms.

That being said, the new slew of counts comes a week after Wilcox's lawyer, former Superior Court Presiding Judge Colin Campbell, filed a

court motion to remand the original 36 counts back to a grand jury. Thomas' preemptive strike could be seen as a sign of weakness. Wilcox's side, naturally, has already jumped on this theory.

Wilcox and her husband, Earl, appeared at a news conference with Campbell last month after the first indictment, but indulged in her right to remain silent.

As we reported previously, the search-warrant paperwork served at Chicanos por la Causa's Phoenix headquarters suggests the case is based on May 12, 2009, "tip" to the Sheriff's Office about a 2008 Phoenix Magazine article. A Sheriff's Office report on the case also mentions the article, which exposed how Wilcox voted (with other county supervisors) to provide the Hispanic social-service agency with hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal funds for HIV/AIDS patients at the same time that she failed to publicly disclose loans she took out from the agency's lending arm, Prestamos.

The amount of the Prestamos loans is in dispute. Wilcox's side says $177,500, the Sheriff's Office insists on adding another $120,000.

Wilcox and her husband, Earl, claim (through Campbell) that the loans in question were for their businesses and thus didn't need to be disclosed on official forms because they didn't comprise more than 30 percent of the total debt of their businesses, Grant Park Enterprises and El Portal Restaurant. The Sheriff's Office claims the Wilcoxes personally guaranteed some of the loans, though, technically making them personal loans even if they were used for the business. Elected officials are required by law (putting aside for a moment last year's ruling by Judge Kenneth Fields, made in the first case against Supervisor Don Stapley, that the law doesn't apply to county officials) to list personal loans obtained if they are more than $1,000 and not "resulting from the ordinary conduct of a business." If the Sheriff's Office is right about that, Wilcox is in trouble.

The new indictment clears up a few things, such as the allegation that Wilcox committed a conflict of interest with a vote in March 2003. New Times showed that Wilcox was late to the vote, and the new indictment doesn't mention it.

It does, however, add something else from the Sheriff's Office report (some of which is attached in Campbell's motion to remand, above). The report mentions that Wilcox also failed to disclose a $450,000 loan made to Grant Park Enterprises in 2005 by the Community Bank of Nevada, and now she's being charged for it.

Another investigation of Wilcox's business at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport could be in the works, according to the report. (Not that it's a surprise). Halverson writes that... ancillary complaint" about Wilcox was received that claimed the Supervisor "unduly used her company, Grant Park Enterprises, LLC's status as an Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise to unlawfully sublease awarded retail space to Host Marriott for a Chili's restaurant. This, however, has not been proven or disproven to be a legitimate subleasing/co-ownership agreement with City of Phoenix, and in accordance with Airport Concession Disadvantaged Business Enterprise practices.

As some readers will recall, the Goldwater Institute released a report in October by writer Mark Flatten about the Sky Harbor deals, following Flatten's three-month investigation. Halverson doesn't state whether the Sky Harbor complaint came in at the same time as the one about the loans.

As before, the new indictment throws the book at Wilcox, hitting her with forgery, false swearing, and perjury, in addition to the 18 felony conflict-of-interest counts.

The holiday season is definitely over for Wilcox and Campbell.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.
Contact: Ray Stern